WITNESS RADIO MILESTONES
Lusanja Evictions: Court declines to halt construction
Businessman Medard Kiconco wanted the court to issue an interim order against the Lusanja residents, stopping them from reconstructing houses on the disputed land. The High Court has declined to halt the ongoing reconstruction of houses on the contested site in Lusanja in Wakiso as requested by businessman Medard Kiconco who claims ownership of the disputed land.
On Wednesday, the deputy registrar of the land division of the High Court, Samuel Emokor, said although Kiconco’s prayer is justified, the order could be abused.
“An order for stay of the reconstruction of the houses could be abused by the applicant and add tension to both parties,” he stated.
The registrar also noted that the exact location of the property is still under contention and it would be unfair to grant the same. Kiconco through his lawyer, Rashid Babu wanted the court to issue an interim order against the Lusanja residents, stopping them from reconstructing houses on the disputed land.
The residents, who turned up in big numbers at the court are represented by lawyers Abdullah Kiwanuka, Luyimbazi Nalukoola and Erias Lukwago.
The lawyers asked the court to first hear the case in which a group of 128 Lusanja residents want to be joined as a party to the case on grounds that they could be prejudiced by the outcome of the case yet they live on the land. However, Kiconco’s lawyer asked the court to throw out the resident’s application, stating that if allowed, it would mean they are forcing his client to sue them yet it is not their property.
In December last year, Kiconco dragged 17 people to the court stating that they were squatters whom he had compensated to vacate the land. They are Patrick Opedo, Harriet Nabuso, Samuel Muyanja, Agnes Namukasa, Madinah Nansereko, Christopher Mbogo, Christine Kayesu, John Ntale, Fred Kanyike, Sam Sserunjobi, Mary Nankabirwa, John Kilabira, Kenneth Kizito, Bashir Kalema, Martin Ntale, Kabuye Ssekitoleko and Scovia Nyanzi.
The residents were jointly sued with the lands state minister Persis Namuganza and Rosemary Sseninde, the state minister for primary education, accusing them of incitement.
Kiconco accuses the ministers of inciting people to stay on his land in spite of the fact that he compensated them of about sh100m. The land in question measuring 3.89 acres is located on Block 206, Plot 671 at Mpererwe in Kampala.He claims that by the time he bought the land from Paul Katabazi Bitarabeho in 2013, there were only 17 squatters, which he compensated.
The disputed land is part of the 85 acres that the late Bitarabeho bought in 1978 from the late Namasole Bagalaayeze Lunkuse, the mother of Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda. He wants the court to declare that the defendants trespassed on to and are illegally occupying his land and should vacate it.
Although Kiconco claims his land is on Block 206, Plot 671 at Mpererwe in Kampala, the residents say their land is on block 198, Folio 13 in Wakiso district.
Genesis of the case
On January 12, 2017, Kiconco filed a civil suit at Nabweru Chief Magistrate’s Court seeking orders for abetment of a nuisance, demolition order, and delivery of vacant possession, permanent injunction and award of damages plus costs of the suit.
Chief Magistrate Esther Rebecca Nasambu heard the matter experte (without the defendants filing a defence). On October 3, 2017, Nasambu delivered judgment with orders declaring the defendants as trespassers, a permanent injunction against the defendants, demolition of structures and sh20m in damages plus costs of the case.
It is upon this ruling that Kiconco went to the High Court’s execution and bailiff’s division and secured a demolition order. On August 23, 2018, deputy registrar, Baker Rwatooro issued an eviction order which Kiconco used to evict the Lusanja residents.
The eviction attracted mixed reactions from many Ugandans including President Yoweri Museveni.
On October 16, 2018, President Museveni in the company of Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, the chairperson of the Commission of Land inquiry even visited the locus and halted the demolition of another 240 houses. On December 14, last year, John Eudes Keitirima ruled that the residents were wrongfully evicted from Lusanja land because the trial magistrate had no powers to handle the case.
However, he advised any aggrieved party to institute a substantive case before a right court for trial.
Complaint against unprofessional conduct of the DPC Kiryandongo district for aiding and abetting land grabbing in kiryandongo district.
Professional Standards Unit, Uganda Police-Kampala.
RE: COMPLAINT AGAINST UNPROFESSIONAL CONDUCT OF THE DPC KIRYANDONGO DISTRICT FOR AIDING AND ABETTING LAND GRABBING IN NYAMUTENDE KITWARA PARISH KIRYANDONGO DISTRICT AND CARRYING OUT ILLEGAL ARRESTS AND DETENTION OF INNOCENT RESIDENTS/ BIBANJA OWNERS FOR PROTESTING AGAINST THE ILLEGAL EVICTION FROM THEIR LAND.
We act for and behalf of the Lawful and bonafide occupants of Land described as LRV MAS 2 FOLIO 8 BLOCK 8 PLOT 22 (FORMERLY KNOWN AS RANCH 22).
Our Clients are residents of Nyamutende Village, Kitwara Parish in Kiryandongo District where they have lived for more than 30 years and sometime in 2017, they applied for a lease of the said Land to Kiryandongo District Land Board through the Directorate of Land Matters State House.
As they were still awaiting their Application to be processed, they were shocked to establish that the said land had been instead leased to and registered in the names of Isingoma Julius, Mwesige Simon, John Musokota William, Tumusiime Gerald, Wabwire Messener Gabriel, Ocema Richard and Wilson Shikhama, some of whom were not known to the Complainants. A copy of the Search is attached hereto
Our clients protested the above action and appealed to relevant offices, but were shocked to discover that the above persons had gone ahead and sold the same to a one Maseruka Robert.
Aggrieved by these actions, the Complainants appealed to the RDC who advised them to institute proceedings against the said persons, and assigned them a one Mbabazi Samuel to assist them to that effect. The said Mbabazi accordingly filed Civil Suit Noa 46 of 2019 against tne said registered proprietors at Masindi High Court challenging the illegal and fraudulent registration, sale and transfer of the subject land to Maseruka Robert.
While awaiting the progress of the case mentioned hereinabove, the Complainants were surprised to find that the said Mbabazi, instead of assisting them, he went into a consent settling the said suit on their behalf without their knowledge or consent. A copy of the Consent is attached hereto.
Among the terms of the said consent Judgment was that the residents would be compensated without specifying how much and would in return vacate the Land.
As if that was not enough, Maseruka Robert and Mbabazi Samuel are going ahead to execute the said Consent Judgment by forcefully evicting the occupants without compensation which has prompted the complainants to challenge the said Consent by applying for its review and setting aside at Masindi High Court which is coming up for hearing on the 29th March 2023. A copy of the Application is attached hereto.
Sensing the imminent threat of eviction, we also filed an application for interim stay of execution of the said consent to avoid rendering their application for review nugatory but unfortunately the same could not be heard on the date it was fixed for hearing (6th February 2023). A copy of the Application is attached hereto
On Thursday last week, three tractors being operated by 6 workers of a one Mbabazi Samuel [the very person who had been entrusted to represent our Clients to secure their Land through Civil Suit No.46 of 2019] encroached close to 50 acres of our Clients’ land and started ploughing it but our Client’s protested and chased them away.
We have however been shocked to receive information from our Clients that on Sunday at Mid night, 3 police patrols invaded the community in the night and arrested community members; Mulenje Jack, Steven Kagyenji, Mulekwa David, Ntambala Geoffrey, Tumukunde Isaac 15 years, Kanunu Innocent, Mukombozi Frank, Kuzara, Rwamunyankole Enock, and took them to Kiryandongo Police Station where they are currently detained.
We strongly protest the illegal arrests and detention of our Clients as this is a carefully orchestrated land grabbing scheme by Maseruka Robert and Mbabazi Samuel who are receiving support from the DPC Kiryandongo.
The purpose of this Letter therefore is to request your good office to investigate the misconduct, abuse of office and unprofessionalism of the said DPC Kiryandongo District and all his involvement in the land grabbing schemes on land formerly known as Ranch 22.
Looking forward to your urgent intervention,
C.C The Head Police Land Protection Unit Police Head Quarters Naguru
CC The RDC Kiryandongo District
CC The Chairman LCVKityadongo District
CC The Regional Police CommanderAlbertine Region
WITNESS RADIO MILESTONES
The Executive Director of Witness Radio Uganda talks about the role played by Witness Radio in protecting communities affected by large-scale agribusinesses in Kiryandongo district in an interview with the ILC.
WITNESS RADIO MILESTONES
Witness Radio Uganda wins the best CSO land rights defenders award at the National Land Forum Awards.
By Witness Radio Team
Uganda’s leading land and environmental rights watchdog, Witness Radio has been awarded the best CSO land rights defender award 2022 in the recently concluded National Land Forum Awards held last week at Mestil hotel in Kampala.
Witness Radio’s executive Director, Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala attributed the award to the community land and environmental rights defenders who stand up against the intimidation and different forms of harassment from land grabbers (economically powerful and politically connected companies and individual investors).
“This is an award for defenders at a community level. They work in very deadly environments filled with harassment, torture, death threats, arrest, trumped-up charges, and kidnaps among others to advocate for community land and environment rights. This is happening at a spate where criminalization and silencing of community land rights defenders are at increase.” Jeff added.
The award has come at a time when hundreds of Ugandans in different parts of the country are accessing services provided by the organization ranging from legal service provisions, non-judicial mechanism engagements, empowerment to help them understand their rights, and using the same knowledge to use the same skills to push back against illegal and forced evictions
The chairman of the organizing committee of the second National Land Forum, Mr. Jimmy Ochom noted some progress on legislation in Uganda’s land Governance. He cited growing inequalities on land where the poor are more vulnerable.
During awards, the state minister for housing, Hon persis Namuganza revealed that the government approved the plan for 2018-2040 that maps the land use in the country.
According to the minister, the government had identified land for settlement, game reserves, wildlife, arable land for farming, and water bodies among others in the plan which she said was passed a few weeks ago.
The event was organized by Oxfam and partners and provided a platform for discussions by the different actors in the land sector on issues around land governance, including land rights, land administration, and land governance for improved collaboration, cooperation between the actors, and improved land service delivery for Ugandans under a theme “Taking stock of the National Land Policy in addressing Land inequality in addressing Land inequality in Uganda.”
Other categories of awards that were won by different organizations and individuals including Mr. Eddie Nsamba-Gayiiya for his contribution to research on land rights, Justice Centers Uganda for Promoting Access to Land Justice, and Mr. Henry Harrison Irumba for Championing Legal Reforms among others.
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